EXCLUSIVE: Mario must go! City want quick cash deal for Balotelli after Mancini bust-up
22:37 GMT, 4 January 2013
23:14 GMT, 4 January 2013
Manchester City are ready to sell Mario Balotelli as soon as possible after Roberto Mancini privately conceded he cannot change the wayward Italy striker.
Despite further claims to the contrary from the City manager, it is understood that Mancini has finally decided it is time to move Balotelli out of the club.
City will not wish to say the 22-year-old is for sale, for fear of driving down his plummeting value even further.
Are you sure you should have that Mario Balotelli returned to training on Friday after his bust-up
But with Balotelli now providing virtually nothing on the field — he has scored just one goal this season in the Barclays Premier League — and proving to be a constant distraction behind the scenes, Mancini, having previously stood by the player against the advice of many of his staff, accepts he has done all he can.
Mancini spoke for the first time about the embarrassing scenes that occurred at the end of a City training session on Thursday as the manager and his striker were photographed pushing and shoving each other in front of the astonished first-team squad.
Mancini said he would give Balotelli a ‘hundred chances to change’ and confirmed that the former Inter Milan star would not be fined and would be in the squad for the FA Cup tie with Watford at the Etihad Stadium this afternoon.
Game over: Balotelli will now be sold by Manchester City despite Mancini insisting otherwise (below)
But City are willing to talk to any club who may wish to make an offer. AC Milan are circling but City want a cash sale — not a loan.
This all points to Balotelli staying during the transfer window and being sold in the summer.
On Friday, further details emerged of Balotelli’s assault on team-mate Scott Sinclair that prompted Mancini’s bust-up with Balotelli. Sportsmail understands that Balotelli’s lunge on Sinclair was so wild that Mancini felt compelled to intervene.
‘This was not just a mistimed tackle that you sometimes get towards the end of training,’ a source revealed. ‘This was an horrendous, horrific slash.’
Pals again Balotelli (left) laughs with team-mate Scott Sinclair during training on Friday
Meanwhile a separate issue loomed over another City striker when it emerged that Sergio Aguero has split from his wife Giannina, daughter of Diego Maradona, after four years.
It is unclear whether she will live with their three-year-old son Benjamin in Madrid or Buenos Aires, but the news is bound to raise concerns over Aguero remaining settled in Manchester.